President Novák: Hungary cannot be ignored when it comes to EU enlargement in Western Balkans

The president said Hungary would speed up the enlargement process when it holds the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of next year.

President Katalin Novák said Hungary is a factor that cannot be ignored when it comes to European Union enlargement in the Western Balkans, which is why it is important for the country to be represented at the Berlin Process summit at the presidential level.

“Today is also important because Hungary, too, has finally joined the Berlin Process in the form that we can be here and express Hungary’s position at the highest level, which is clearly in favour of enlargement in the Western Balkans,” President Novák said ahead of the summit in Tirana on Monday. “We will finally get a chance to say that the EU has failed to do its homework because these countries should have joined the bloc a long time ago,” she added. Hungary and the EU both need the Western Balkans, just as they need stability in the region, without which neither can be secure, the president said. Novák said another reason why she had accepted Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s invitation to the summit was to make clear that Hungary would do everything it could to ensure that the Western Balkan countries could join the EU as soon as possible. She added that Hungary would speed up this process when it holds the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of next year. The Berlin Process was set up in 2014 as a platform for high-level cooperation between high official representatives of the Western Balkan Six (WB6) comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and their peers in the Berlin Process host countries.

On another note, after talks with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić in Tirana on Monday, President Novák said: “We need Serbia and the Western Balkans in the European Union." President Novák said Serbia and Hungary were strong strategic partners “with a shared interest to see Serbia within the EU”. She said Hungary could have a crucial role in Serbia’s integration “since we know the region and its culture very well”. Hungary supports Serbia’s EU accession because “Serbia is an integral part of the EU, with European values that nobody could question,” she insisted. She added that Serbia’s integration was key in terms of the community’s protecting its borders against illegal migrants. Novák said Serbia respected the rights of its ethnic minorities, adding that they could prosper and contribute to Serbia’s development.